Relief Map

Relief Map

Book - 2016 | First US edition
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"In the heat of a stifling summer in her sixteenth year, Livy [Markos] spends her days in the rust-belt town of Lomath, Pennsylvania, babysitting, hanging out with her best friend Nelson, and waiting for a bigger life to begin. These simple routines are disrupted when the electricity is cut off and the bridges are closed by a horde of police and FBI agents. A fugitive from the Republic of Georgia, on the run from an extradition order, has taken refuge in nearby hills and no one is able to leave or enter Lomath until he is found. As the police fail to find the wanted man and hours stretch into days, the town of Lomath begins to buckle under the strain." --
Publisher: Portland, Oregon : Tin House Books, 2016
Edition: First US edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781941040225 paperback
1941040225 paperback
Branch Call Number: FIC KNECHT
Characteristics: 287 pages ; 20 cm


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Aug 19, 2018

This is a really engaging coming of age story - brimming w suspense, violence, budding love and plenty of important forks in the road. Knecht sensitively draws complex characters (central & peripheral) behaving in ways the reader may or may not be able to to understand or even relate to. I came to care about even those who do some pretty unlikable things. Young adult readers (and older), whether familiar with the rural setting or not, may find themselves drawn into this complicatedly social story of friends and family, with acquaintances & neighbors not of one's own choosing but part of the group, never-the-less.
Not buying into the unlikely & extreme nature of the "shelter in place" order did make it difficult to settle into the story. Hoping that part is pure literary license.

Jul 25, 2018

In the heat of a stifling summer in the rust-belt town of Lomath,
Pennsylvania, sixteen-year-old Livy Markos babysits, hangs out with
her best friend, Nelson, and waits for a bigger life to begin. Her
lazy summer is quickly disrupted when the electricity is cut off, and
bridges are closed by the police and FBI agents. A fugitive from the
Republic of Georgia, on the run from an extradition order, has taken
refuge in nearby hills, and no one is able to leave or enter Lomath
until he is found.

As the police fail to find the wanted man, and hours stretch into
days, the citizens of Lomath begin to buckle under the strain. Like
Russian dolls, each hostage seems to be harboring a captive of his or
her own. Even Livy's parents may have something to conceal, and Livy
must learn that the source of danger is not always what It appears to be.

(Rosalie Knecht is a social worker and translator in New York City.
She was born and raised in Pennsylvania. Relief Map is her first novel.)

(Edited description taken from the publisher description of the
paperback edition, as is the edited author biography.)

At the end of the text the publisher poses several “Book Club
Questions.” Some of the more interesting ones, in my own words, follow.

Whom do you think of as the antagonist in this novel? The fugitive?
The townspeople? Law enforcement? Or someone/thing else entirely? (I
don't think the fugitive is the antagonist. I think he's caught up in
the events. If anything, he's the innocent victim. I do think the
townspeople and law enforcement share equal responsibility for the
events that unfold. I also think that the licentiousness of small town
life is a factor, as well.)

What sort of ending do you imagine for the fugitive? I think he's
going to make it. (He's hard working and industrious and with a sort
of Greta Garbo wish to life.)

What were you expecting from Livy and Nelson's relationship? How do
you think Knecht balances the intense friendship and the budding
romance? (I think one of the great things about this novel is the way
the author handles this. Two long-time, close friends develop feelings
that they hadn't expected and the uncertainties seem to weigh on both
of them. Rosalie Knecht, judging from the profile portrait of her on
the paperback cover, doesn't seem that far removed from the age of
Livy and Nelson, which probably makes that relationship seem so real.)

Which story of a citizen of Lomath would you like to know more about?
Why? (I'd like to know more about Livy's parents, because they seem
like flower children from the sixties; however, her parents probably
are in their thirties or forties, but if they were flower children
they probably would be in their sixties or seventies. I'd also like
know more about Nelson's mother, because she seems so weird. Most of
all, though, I'd like to more about Livy, because she seems such a
neat person. For that reason, I think women, particularly would like
this book.)

I decided to read Relief Map after seeing a review of her second book,
Who is Vera Kelly?, which came out in June 2018. After reading Relief
Map, I definitely plan to read this second book, because Relief Map is a thought-provoking, superbly written coming-of-age story.


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